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Once upon a time Kate Truman (a copy writer by trade) read the 'Walk the Cats' site and contacted me for advise on choosing a kitten. So it was gratifying, if not so surprising, to hear of her success. The italicised comments interpolated below are mine (Richard Torrens).
Kate originally posted her experiences to the 'Walk the cats' mailing list. As you can tell, Kate is a professional copy writer.
I am so thrilled today. Why? Because I have just enjoyed my first mile and a half walk with my new 3 and a half month old Siamese kitten, Chico, and my 7 year old Labrador, Otto. Hopefully, it will be the first of many. And it solves my dilemma of wanting to give my cat outdoor time without the risks involved with free roaming - although there are obviously other risks involved in cat walking, as I'm sure I'll discover.
After doing much reading and research on the internet, and particularly with the helpful information provided by Richard Torrens, I knew that it was possible - given the right cat. So I took my time finding Chico and made sure he was bred in a home with dogs and with a breeder who understood the need to socialise her kittens. It has clearly paid off, or I have been lucky, as Chico is completely adorable - sweet natured, happy, confident - and totally in love with my Labrador, Otto! Fortunately, after some initial excitement, Otto seems rather fond of Chico, too, and they spend much of their day curled up together in Otto's basket.
Not sure how much luck is needed: in my experience almost all cats enjoy walks! But you need to chose one who is sociable so which will bond to you, an your dog, so it's inclined to be with you when you walk it. Lots of moggies need this requirement, but it's almost universal, I suspect, in sociable breeds such as Siamese! But it always makes sense to pick a kitten who has already had the right initial experience and shows the potential. Richard
Everything I had read (not on my site surely?) had led me to expect that it would take weeks to get Chico used to a harness and lead, let alone hit the trail with my dog. But when I first put the harness on him and he didn't bat an eyelid, I figured I had a pretty chilled out cat. So, after one minor excursion in the garden, I decided to go against all the theory and just go for it. I loaded cat and dog into the boot of the car and drove to some local farm fields which, I knew from walking Otto, were generally quiet but also quite open so that I was confident that I could see potential hazards, such as other dogs, approaching. I also wore a pet 'pouch' on my front - something which is bought these days by people with small designer dogs who aren't allowed to walk anywhere - so that I had somewhere safe to put Chico should I need to lift him up. At least, that was the theory.
Siamese have very thin coats which are not very water resistant. Come wet or cold weather, Chico may well appreciate this pouch!
What I expected was a very slow walk (usually I do more of a power walk with Otto) and constant encouragement for Chico to follow me. What actually happened is that Chico bounded along, desperately trying to keep up with Otto, with me desperately trying to keep up with Chico! It was such a pleasant surprise. There were one or two hissy fits when Otto thundered past a bit too close, and Chico's tail was definitely twice the size it normally is for the duration of the walk, so clearly his adrenalin was pumping, but if I did try to pick him up, he was just desperate to get back down. (This is exactly what I find: the Christmas-tree tail is a sign of excitement, not one of fear!) This is something that I need to work on as clearly there will be times when I need to lift him to safety without him writhing around like a mad thing.
A collapsible pet carrier is useful here, as it can also give the cat a sense of security in potentially frightening situations. A haversack can do nearly as well, though the cat has no view from this so may object a little.
Overall, I'm delighted. We both still have a lot to learn - and I'm not so sure that this could be accomplished with any cat - but I'm confident that Chico will become an accomplished walker and that we are going to have lots of fun together. I truly believe that the key to success in my case is the strong bond between cat and dog and there's no doubt in my mind that Chico already thinks he is a dog - Otto is his hero! But I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has managed to walk their cat without a dog. Also interested to hear from anyone walking a cat who has received negative reactions from dog walkers - I'm being careful to choose places and times where I don't anticipate meeting many people but, I'm still feeling anxious about the attentions of cat-hating dogs!
Yes, a potential problem, but it will be moderated by Otto: the strange dog will likely be more interested in greeting Otto than in chasing Chico. Then if the strange dog does show interest in Chico, Otto may well prove protective.
In the meantime, Chico is enjoying a well-earned snooze on my lap!
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© 2008 Richard Torrens & Kate Truman.
Page first published 29th March 2008.
Last modified: Mon, 27 Nov 2017 16:36:08 GMT
Document URI: www.torrens.org/Cats/Stories/Chico.html